When my children were growing up, and old enough to understand, I told them an important truth, “I’m not interested in being your friend, I’m your mom.”

My children really didn’t need me to act like a friend. If I did, it would truly be a disservice to them down the long road of adolescence and young adulthood. The unruly will of children required what only a mother could give, not a friend.

They needed tough love and tenderness, in equal amounts. They needed my listening ear and my truthful tongue. They needed to see me as their authority and one who would discipline them. And they also needed to know I loved them unconditionally and would extend compassion and forgiveness.

I didn’t do it all right all of the time. My children well know that my compassionate side struggles to reveal itself. And when the teen years descended upon us, there were many tense moments.

Thankfully, we navigated them and made it out alive. I still hold to the notion that children need their parents to be parents, not their friends.

When they view us as authority figures and learn to respect us as such, it works better, in my opinion. Respecting parents usually lays the groundwork for respecting others in authority such as teachers and employers.

Submitting to authority is not an easy task though. We tend to want our own way. Submission requires humility. Teaching my children this concept was so important because I knew one day they would have to make the decision to surrender their lives to Christ, or not.

Many years ago, a friend sent me a text. It was a prayer request. She asked me to pray for her young adult daughter. She expressed this, “Jesus is her Savior, but she’s not yet made Him her Lord.”

At the time, I didn’t fully understand what she meant, now I do. Believing in Jesus is simple. It was never meant to be hard. Living out that belief on a daily basis is what’s hard. It requires surrender and discipline.

One day, Jesus will literally reign on this earth as King. But even before that time, He comes to rule in the heart of every believer. Sometimes Christians try to keep Him exclusively in the role of Savior, but salvation is just the beginning of all the blessings the Lord has in store for us. Only in submission and obedience to Christ’s authority will we be transformed into His image and live a life worthy of His rewards.

My oldest child is married and hoping to start a family of her own soon. She and her husband have a dog and adopted a kitten a few months ago. This new addition has kept them up at night, is demanding, tears through the house like she owns it and often requires discipline, a spray of water to the face.

The Christmas tree in December proved more than she could handle. I think she spent most of the holidays in time out. This young couple is getting a tiny bit of practice at parenting an unruly child whose will doesn’t want to break.

But, breaking the will is a must. Discipline requires it. A wise person told me once that disciplining children should break their will, not their spirit.

Discipline shouldn’t humiliate, but it should produce a healthy fear and respect for authority. When our unruly wills refuse to submit, I believe it saddens our Creator.

He loves us, His creation, so much that He wrapped Himself in flesh and became one of us, in order to save us. When my will refuses to be ruled by the One who made me and gives me breath, it reveals a prideful heart bent toward sin.

My fiery redheaded, unruly will battled against my parents’ authority growing up. Many lessons were learned, usually the hard way for me. They doled out both tough love and tenderness. Both were needed and for both I am grateful.

I am also grateful for sweet memories of being in church and hearing Mom sing the old hymns. Here’s a few stanzas from one of my favorites. It speaks poetically toward the unruly will.

Have Thine own way Lord

Have Thine own way

Thou art the Potter, I am the clay

Mold me and make me after Thy will

While I am waiting yielded and still

Have Thine own way Lord

Have Thine own way

Search me and try me Master today

Whiter than snow Lord wash me just now

As in the Thy presence humbly I bow

Have Thine own way Lord

Have Thine own way

Hold over my being absolute sway

Filled with They spirit till all can see

Christ only always living in me

Visit Julie Lake at her website and blog at juliehlake.com. She’s also on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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